Last week we took a break from summer learning. It was just too busy around here to try and force any sort of summer learning projects. This week though, we’ve got plenty of time and I’ve decided the theme is creative writing. It’s a skill that all of my children need to improve. And I was excited because they were all pretty excited about it.
I recently purchased a book of writing prompts, thanks to my English teaching friend Erin. Each page in the book has a picture and then a prompt/question/theme of sorts to get the writing started. The 13yo picked a theme and went straight to work. It was of course a romantic sort of theme which is right up her alley these days. She wrote two pages, primarily dialogue with some nice description included. Her writing has improved this year. I gave her a suggestion for a stronger finish and better way to address the specific question that was asked in the prompt. She didn’t roll her eyes at me. I call it a win-win.
The 11yo who likes writing was up next. She had a dentist appointment during the assignment time so she’s not finished yet but I know she’ll have something for me in the next day or so. She let her sister pick the prompt and it also has a bit of a romantic slant – something about two hands reaching for a carton of berries at the same time. I think it would be funny to take it in the opposite direction, maybe a food fight in the produce section… but I won’t sway her and I’m sure I’ll end up with something sappy. As long as she uses good descriptions and has a strong finish I won’t complain.
The boy was up next. Obviously my standards for the 7yo are slightly lower than what I was expecting from his sisters. I originally suggested he write me another one of his books (I’m still waiting for the second installment of Dog and Bird). But J wanted to try the writing prompt book that his sisters were using. I flipped through it and told him to tell me when to stop. We landed on a page of three men at a sports arena. You couldn’t tell what sport it was and the prompt was to tell the story around the picture. His story:
These three guys are watching a baseball game. They are having fun. The End.
Okay… I have higher standards than that. I asked him if he could write more. He said no. I encouraged him and even told him I’d help by asking questions such as why are the guys together? How is the game going? Did something special just happen during the game? He said “I don’t know, you can’t tell that from the picture.” I agreed and told him that was the point of this exercise, that you had to use your imagination to make the picture mean something.
At that point, he erased his two sentences and very stubbornly told me he was done writing. I calmly told him he had a great start and he didn’t need to start over, just add to what he had. He was having none of it. So I waited him out (my children may be stubborn but they inherited it from the queen of stubborn). It didn’t take long for him to ask if he could look at the book and pick out his own prompt. I agreed. He picked the spookiest picture he could find. I made the assignment age appropriate and asked him to write a story about someone who saw this spooky ghost and how he felt about it. I told him the important thing here was to have more detail and share his character’s emotions. Here’s what I got:
There is a soldier stuck in a war. The soldier got lost from the war and he saw a ghost and he faints. He woke up and the ghost was eating his brain. And then he died.
Bet you didn’t see that zombie twist coming did you?! I asked him if he could tell me how the soldier felt when he saw the ghost. His reply, “Duh! He fainted so he must have been scared.”
I’ll take it as a partial win. He didn’t really follow the prompt but he was creative.
(Side note: This assignment has shown me that I might need to have a spelling week this summer. Yikes.)